Introducing Children to the Wide World of Fruits and Veggies

July 17, 2015

By Elana Frydman, HSC Intern

Earlier this summer, Tonti Elementary School in Chicago reached out to Healthy Schools Campaign and our free professional development program Fit to Learn to participate in its health fair. We were excited to introduce the school’s 500 students to new fresh fruits and vegetables.

Held in the school’s’ gymnasium, the health fair was broken into various stations. Stations taught the children how to grow their own plants, educated students about the health value of smoothies, taught students various tennis drills, and exposed children to a short series of different stationary exercises.

At our station, students learned about the wide world of fruits and veggies. They were able to taste bell peppers, snap peas, strawberries, oranges, pomegranate seeds, carrots and celery. Many of these fruits and vegetables were new to the students. In fact, many of the students were surprised to find out that bell peppers were not spicy but rather sweet. Several students were very reluctant to trying it because they could not imagine that this pepper was not spicy like other peppers they eat.

We used a “Fruit or Not” lesson plan to teach students about the differences between fruits and vegetables. For example, the bell pepper is actually a fruit. Fruits have seeds, vegetables do not. Students and faculty were very impressed to learn that cucumbers are actually fruits.

Although the day was long, the time went by quickly, and the experience was rewarding due to how enthusiastic the kids were about nutritious foods. My experience at the health fair reinforced my belief that education empowers positive health behavior, and therefore a healthy community. The students were so receptive to the information that we offered and seemed so impressed and excited about learning new facts about fruits and veggies.

At HSC, we know that healthy students are better learners, but sometimes children — especially children of color in low-income urban neighborhoods — don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Being able to get these students excited about eating healthy food is one of the things I love about working at HSC.